E-health rebates 'smoke and mirrors': Australian Medical Association

The government's announced rebates are "nothing new" says AMA president, Steve Hambleton.

The Australian Medical Association (AMA) has thrown water on the announced Medicare rebates accessible for GPs participating in the government’s $466.7 million national e-health project.

AMA president, Steve Hambleton, told Computerworld Australia that the government’s announcement was simply “smoke and mirrors” and did not amount to anything new for patients wanting to access their health summary under the Personally Controlled Electronic Health Record (PCEHR) program.

“The public announcements from the government suggest that patients will only get a Medicare rebate if the shared health summary is prepared as part of an existing MBS [Medicare Benefits Schedule] consultation,” Hambleton said.

“They basically said that if you have a consultation for something else and you upload an e-health summary record in the same consultation then that’s fine, you can do both but if you’re not sick there’s no rebate for seeing a GP to upload a summary health record.

“If there’s no reason for you to be there other than the summary health record then there’s no rebate.

“What the minister has offered doctors is the chance to do more for the same money or no extra.”

The scheme has tiers including Level B ($35.60), available for consultations less than 20 minutes, Level C ($69) for more than 20 minutes, and Level D ($101.55), available for consultations for more than 40 minutes.

According to Hambleton, repeated attempts to clarify with health minister, Tanya Plibersek, have been fruitless and have confirmed there is no new money on the table for rebates concerning the shared health summaries.

The AMA has now established additional items to advise its members on appropriate fees associated with preparing and sharing a health summary for the PCEHR, taking into consideration the time, the work and the expertise required to ensure the summaries are accurate, up-to-date, and useful across health care settings.

“The items provide guidance to AMA members on medical fees for this important clinical service for their patients,” he said. “It is not a recommended fee. The AMA encourages its members to set their own fees based on their practice cost experience.

“The AMA items are time-tiered and can be billed in addition to any consultation that is provided to the patient on the same day.

“The government has made all this fanfare but when we clarified exactly what the government meant there’s no intention of providing any new rebates.”

AMA Number and feeDescription of medical service
AA340 $53.00Professional service initiated by the patient and rendered by a medical practitioner to prepare and/or manage a Shared Health Summary for the patient’s Personally Controlled Electronic Health Record – A service of not more than 15 minutes duration
AA341 $104.00A service of more than 15 minutes duration but not more than 30 minutes duration
AA342 $154.00A service of more than 30 minutes duration but not more than 45 minutes duration
AA343 $210.00A service of more than 45 minutes duration

Hambleton also reiterated the need for the government to offer incentives for GPs to take part.

“Unless there’s some business case for doctors to participate then there’s no reason to, for example the provision of a subsidy… if not then there’s no business case, there’s no reason why a business would actually do anything unless there’s some return.” Follow Chloe Herrick on Twitter: @chloe_CW

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